Neuse River crests, rising to record levels

Elaina Athans Image
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
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Flooding in Wayne County

WAYNE COUNTY, NC (WTVD) -- A Goldsboro man is one of 19 North Carolinians who have died as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

Related story: What rivers in North Carolina are flooding?

Goldsboro Police said they found the body of Lemuel Frank Kornegay, 54, in his car Tuesday afternoon in a wooded creek area in the 2500 block of Wayne Memorial Drive.

Police said Kornegay appeared to have been traveling south on Wayne Memorial when his vehicle stalled in floodwaters. His vehicle was swept into the creekbed by rising, rushing waters and he was unable to escape his vehicle, officials said.

The Neuse River crested in Goldsboro early Wednesday morning at a record level just over 29 feet, but it's not expected to peak until Saturday in Kinston.

Some water receded in Smithfield Wednesday morning.

WATCH: Elaina Athans reports from Wayne County

As many as 131 buildings are potentially impacted. The damage toll could reach more than $1.2 million.

Wayne County is one of several counties that wasn't on the initial list for FEMA support, but Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that it has been added to the list.

The National Guard is out in force and navigating through water-logged roads. Guard soldiers are bringing people to safety from the high flood waters. Officials say so far, there have been 125 rescues.

Goldsboro Officials did not implement a mandatory evacuation. Residents were encouraged to leave voluntarily.

Marie Jackson left her home Monday night as the Neuse River was rising. She returned Tuesday to see her property

"I'm alive, but still the concern is that I'm going to lose everything and may need another place to live," she said.

Jackson is renting a room at an Emporia, Va., hotel. She doesn't feel staying in North Carolina, where there is extensive flooding.

"It's heart-wrenching when you go over there. It's very heart-wrenching to see the conditions," she said. "Everything is literally under water over there."

Several interstates and side roads are washed out.

Drivers are frustrated and finding it incredibly difficult to get out of town. People were seen stopping police officers and begging for guidance how to leave.

"I can't get anywhere I was going. I can't go to work," said Goldsboro resident Freddy Sugg.

Officials don't expect the water to recede until Sunday.

Power is slowly being restored in Wayne County but the floodwaters are sticking around after Matthew dumped 14 to 18 inches of rain on the area.

On Monday, Wayne County officials said the Neuse River was at 26.51 feet.

On Tuesday, it was running at more than 28 feet. Officials said Monday that they expected it to only drop to 27 feet and then remain at that level throughout the week.

"Don't know when we're going to get back, don't know of an RV park around here that will take us," Kathy Peoples said.

WATCH: Stranded in a parking lot, they can only wait

She and her husband were living in an RV park on Buscoe Beach when she said EMS came knocking on her door Saturday. They told them they needed to evacuate or their RV would be under water in a matter of hours.

"It terrified me to death, I been through hurricanes in my lifetime but I have never been through a flood like this, I have never in my life seen so much water so quick, so fast," Peoples said.

For them, Hurricane Matthew hit twice. Their permanent home is in Jacksonville, Florida. Thankfully it escaped with only some damage, but then the storm met them in North Carolina.

Now they're parked, with several other campers, in a Food Lion parking lot, waiting to go back home.

Also waiting in that same parking lot is Ronald Young and his dog. Young said the National Guard came knocking on his door and told him to evacuate.

"They said you have to get out and I'm like, 'go where?' " Young said.

So for a day and a half, he and his dog have been living out of his SUV. He said he hasn't been able to find an open hotel or a shelter that will take them both.

"It's a horrible feeling; you're stranded," Young said.

County leaders say three Red Cross shelters are open with 110 people. They say residents who live in flood-prone areas who are considering evacuating are encouraged to do so sooner than later

The county closed U.S. 117 at 9 p.m. The southern connector Highway 581 is closed. However U.S. 70 and 795 remain open.

We're told the Goldsboro Water Treatment Plant is currently safe, and the water quality in the city is safe to drink. Residents who live in water districts with boil advisories should continue boiling water out of precaution.

Power crews are working to restore electricity in Wayne County and the NCDOT is continuing to remove fallen trees along roadway. The county is under a state of emergency and there is a curfew in effect from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Wayne County Emergency Management is stressing that motorists who come across high water should turn around and not drive through it.

Earlier Monday, the Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice evacuated Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro.

A total of 797 inmates were safely transported by bus to other facilities within the state prison system. Neuse Correctional Institution is west of downtown Goldsboro, near the confluence of the Little River and the Neuse River. It is a minimum-security prison housing adult male inmates.

Also Monday, the City of Goldsboro asked some residents to voluntarily evacuate their homes because of the rising Neuse River.

Residents affected are those south and west of the following boundaries:

  • South Slocumb Street to Olivia Lane
  • Olivia Lane to John Street
  • John Street to Elm Street
  • Elm Street to George Street
  • George Street to Ash Street
  • Ash Street to Carolina Street
  • Carolina Street to West Grantham Street

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